Unchecked lifestyle trends have caused a sharp rise in Sudden Cardiac Deaths in India
In the past two years, India has not only witnessed innumerable COVID-related deaths, but has also recorded a sharp rise in deaths arising out of post-covid complications. Among them, death due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is considered a grave concern, especially among young adults. The Cardiological Society of India (CSI) warns that there has been a significant rise in the number of sudden cardiac deaths (SCD) in India since the past couple of years, where young adults are thought to be the prime sufferers. According to CSI, India is the new chronic heart disease capital of the world. And the alarming revelation is that it isn’t just a byproduct of the pandemic, but a pertinent issue that has been developing among our generation since quite long.
If not handled with caution, this puts the life of our current and upcoming generation at a greater risk of falling prey to CVDs and SCDs. Among the most common causes of cardiac diseases are unhealthy lifestyles including sedentary living, high intake of sugar, increased screen time, high-stress jobs, lack of exercise and pollution. The ‘why’ behind the sharp rise in SCDs, especially among young adults does not look so blurry when we look at the underlying causes. However, it begs the question of any concerned adult - what exactly is being done to minimize the number of sudden cardiac deaths in the nation?
Let’s take a look at the some of these causes and its impact on the current generation -
High intake of sugar and unhealthy diet
Sugar isn’t just found in desserts and in your regular cup of tea / coffee. Almost all fast foods that we consume are high in sugar, fat and salt, which elevates the flavour profile of the food and makes it more addictive compared to your average home-cooked meal. This is a major reason why the majority of us are hooked on consuming fast-food items more than once a week.
Even if we keep aside pizzas and burgers for a moment, a regular batch of french fries does the job of delivering the excess amount of high fat, sugar and salt to your body. Needless to say, the introduction of food delivery services to our lives have only made the situation much worse. The massive expansion of food delivery services across the nation may have boosted employment, but have also contributed to a significant increase in the consumption of fast-food in the form of online deliveries.
Despite the active intervention of FSSAI in governing the nutrition and food safety limits of restaurants and fast food joints, many of these outlets reportedly fail to comply with the recommended levels of fat, salt and sugar.
However, it is not just the rise in fast-food consumption that contributes to our unhealthy diets, but also the consumption of packaged and processed food, that has substituted many of our organic supplies in the kitchen.
Increased screen time and stress-induced lifestyle
It’s not a new revelation that the majority of the population in India are hooked to their smart gadgets, including the smartphones, smart TVs, smartwatches and smart home assistant devices, among other things. Despite being aware that over-usage of digital screens in our lives leads to reduced quality of life, high-stress and sedentary lifestyle, we just can’t seem to get rid of this vicious cycle. The reason? We can get most of the tasks done in today’s world at the tap of a button - be it online payments, door-step delivery of groceries, online booking of services and so on.
Apart from the essential online tasks that we complete through our smart devices, we are also getting increasingly addicted to the entertainment lifestyle introduced by the OTT platforms. Binge-watching of TV series is a relatively new pattern developed in the advent of online content consumption. As a result, most of the production houses have shifted to creating series-based content (long-form, recurring content) that fits in the pattern of our binge-watching trend. And that’s another reason why minimizing screen-time has become seemingly impossible for most end users.
While the industries such as IT, entertainment, food, etc are constantly working on rolling out relevant products and services in order to maintain a steady supply of uninterrupted choices of consumption to the end users, it is also slowly and indirectly contributing to the rise of unprecedented health trends such as development of CVDs, diabetes and so on from an early age.
At this stage, it is not a matter of raising awareness, because everybody knows about the ill-effects of our current lifestyle. But there is no significant change in our lifestyle as a whole that could reverse this alarming health trend. A Lancet study has further projected that India will witness close to 75% of deaths related to non-communicable diseases by the year 2030, among which death by CVDs will be more than in nations like the US, China and Russia.
Unfortunately, a shift in lifestyle for the better under the current market scenario and lifestyle adaptation is easier said on paper than practised in real life. But it’s a start that one can make. It’s also important to involve timely medical screening for potential diseases and detection of underlying symptoms from an early age. Measures must also be taken for the compliance of all necessary regulations among the food industry, whereas activities promoting an active lifestyle away from the digital screen must be incentivized more often.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.
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